Carlos Beltran Joins Cardinals On Two-Year Contract

Free agent Carlos Beltran wanted to find a new home before Christmas. Thursday, he did just that, agreeing to a two-year contract with the Cardinals worth $26 million.

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How Good Are The St. Louis Cardinals?

For Cardinals fans, signing Carlos Beltrán for two seasons takes some of the sting out of losing Albert Pujols via free agency. But might the Cardinals actually be better next season than the World Champions of last season?

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Carlos Beltran, Cardinals Reach Two-Year Contract Agreement

After winning the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals turned their attention to re-signing Albert Pujols. They couldn't get it done, as Pujols bolted for the Angels, but the Cardinals didn't have to look far for a replacement. Pujols is represented by agent Dan Lozano. Agent Dan Lozano also represents Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran was a free agent. And Thursday, Beltran and the Cardinals reached a two-year agreement.

According to Tim Brown, the deal's worth just over $25 million*, and includes a full no-trade clause. Beltran was insistent on said clause, and I'm given to believe that was the final hurdle. Once it was cleared, the contract was finalized.

So. What's Beltran going to do? The Cardinals have Lance Berkman at first. They have Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Allen Craig in the outfield. In theory, there's no room. But for a guy like Beltran, you make room, and he'll get his at bats - sometimes as a right fielder, and sometimes as a center fielder. Beltran isn't the center fielder he used to be, but he won't embarrass himself, and he can hit, which helps. It's good to have guys who can hit.

Just last season, with the Mets and the Giants, Beltran batted .300/.385/.525, which is fantastic. Over the last three years, covering some injuries, Beltran's posted an .881 OPS, and though he'll be 35 in April, last year kind of put off concerns that he was slowing down. No, he probably won't do what he did last year again. He doesn't have to to be good. He should be good with the Cardinals.

Wednesday, I was thinking about how getting Adam Wainwright back would be a big help for the Cardinals when it comes to filling the Pujols void. With Beltran now, the Cardinals might not have the Pujols icon, but performance-wise, they should be just fine without him. This is a big acquisition, and the Cards are in excellent shape.

* update: $26 million

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Carlos Beltran To Decide Before Christmas; Indians Interested, Cardinals In The Lead

Was it already seven years ago that Carlos Beltran was the hottest free-agent commodity on the market? Dang. You don't even need one of those cultural touchstones to put that into perspective -- "The last time Beltran was a free agent, Train released Alive at Last!!!" -- mostly because Beltran does it himself. He's no longer Carlos Beltran, Super Free Agent; he's Carlos Beltran, Risky Guy That Teams Want Without a Huge Commitment.

But he's still good. Quite good. Actually, if you go by OPS+, which adjusts for league and park, it was Beltran's best season. And teams are looking at him as an offensive upgrade -- the only middle-of-the-order hitter still on the market who can be had without a long-term deal. He's looking to decide on a new team before Christmas, and the teams linked to him thus far have been the Cardinals, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, but Scott Miller of CBS Sports adds the Indians to the mix:

The Indians have been scrounging around for ways to improve their offense all winter, and their late entry into the Beltran talks Wednesday added intrigue as the outfielder moves toward making a final decision.

It's possible that the Indians could use Beltran as a DH, or they could put him in the outfield with Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore. You can pencil those three in for four or five at-bats every game, easy. And by "game," I mean "month." But Beltran would be a fine addition to a lineup that was ravaged by injuries last year.

They're a long shot, though, and Jon Heyman now says that the Beltran market is "heating up," with the Cardinals the team in the lead, even though as Rob Neyer pointed out, the Cards are pretty well set at the corner positions. And if you're thinking Beltran can play center for St. Louis, note that Beltran is a center fielder like Michael Young is a shortstop. Them days is gone. 

Money-on-the-table guess: the Red Sox have an open outfield spot, and Beltran's contract wouldn't go long enough to mess with their efforts to keep the team intact in the long term. But the Jays could sure use Beltran. As could the Rangers. And Cardinals. And Giants. And Twins. And everyone. Because Carlos Beltran is good. Please credit Baseball Nation as your source if you wish to mention that in something you're writing.

 

Update: Where were you five minutes ago, Cafardo? Where???

Red Sox out of Carlos Beltran hunt.
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